As I prepare to teach my staff this week from II Timothy, I want to write out my thoughts to think through the process. In the meantime, I hope that they information can be helpful to you too, as you read through it. In our previous lessons, we have been looking at how Paul entrusted the Gospel, what he calls a treasure, to Timothy, encouraging him how to guard the treasure while entrusting it to others. Here is a quick overview of what II Timothy is all about:
Theme: Guard the treasure (Gospel) How?
Chapter 1 – Retain the standard (1:13)
Chapter 2 – Be diligent in the Word (2:15)
Chapter 3 – Continue in the Word (3:14)
Chapter 4 – Be on guard against those who oppose (4:15)
During our previous two lessons, we learned how to stir up the gift of God and retain the standard of the Gospel. This lesson will focus on how we are to guard the Gospel of God.
I. View the Gospel as a Treasure
Your view of the Gospel will determine how you treat it, specifically, how you guard it. Let’s see what we can learn about the value of the Gospel from some of Paul’s writings, since he is the one who challenges Timothy to view the Gospel as a treasure.
Romans 1:14-17 – the Gospel is the power of God. That in itself, is enough for us to view It as a treasure. Not only is It the power of God, It also leads us to salvation, to everyone who believes in the Gospel and Its power. Now only does the Gospel save us from the penalty of our sins and the destruction that sin brings to our lives, It also gives us the righteousness of God. We can finally be right with God and live the way that He created us to live. Do you see the Gospel as a treasure? Have you experienced Its power? Have you been set free from sin’s power?
I Corinthians 15:1-11 – According to Paul, here, the Gospel saves us. Paul understood what it meant to be saved by the Gospel. He was on a very destructive path in life, putting people to death in his zeal for his religion. God used the Gospel to transform him, to save him from that destructive lifestyle. The Gospel not only saves us and transforms us, It also sustains us day by day so that we can walk with God in a personal relationship, obeying Him the way that He created us to live. Here is what the Gospel is:
- Christ died to pay for our sins. This was done according to the Scriptures. God announced it beforehand in the Old Testament.
- Christ was buried and raised from the dead. Again, this was announced beforehand in the Scriptures.
- After resurrecting, Christ appeared to many different people.
- The Gospel is based on the grace of God and not your merits.
- It motivates us to work hard to share this treasure with others.
- Hear the Gospel and believe.
Philippians 1:2-27 – The Gospel causes your love to grow. The Gospel gives us discernment to make wise choices. The Gospel helps us choose between the things of God and the things of our sin nature. The Gospel is a limitless source of joy.
Is this what you have been taught about the Gospel? Do you view the Gospel just for the forgiveness of sins yet not for daily living? Do you realize now, why Paul calls the Gospel a Treasure? May the Lord help us understand all that the Gospel has to offer!
II. Practical ways to guard the treasure
Now that we have seen the Gospel as a treasure, let’s examine the Scriptures to see how we can guard It they way that God desires. Most of our information is going to come from II Timothy 2. The commands in chapter 2 help us better understand how to guard the Gospel.
- Be strong in the grace of Christ. In chapter 1, we are told to retain the standard of the Gospel. Do not lower the standard for others. Instead, lead them to the standard and teach them how to retain it. When teaching the Word of God, something that pricks people’s sin nature, you will be tempted to lower the standard by the people around you. Do not give in to them. Instead, you stay strong in the grace of the Lord.
- Be taught the Word of God by a mentor. Timothy was a believer when Paul found him. Paul took Timothy under his wing and began to mentor him, teaching him how to serve in the ministry according to the Word of God. Timothy had a great example to look to in Paul.
- Entrust the Word of God to faithful people. How will I recognize faithful people? They will be the ones who come up to the standard and retain it. They will be the ones who view the Gospel as a treasure. They will have a desire to take what they have learned and pass it on to others.
- Be ready to suffer hardship for your stance. Do not back down in the face of opposition. When you teach others the Word, there will be opposition in many different forms. Some will oppose the teaching while others will oppose your stance on upholding the standard. Be ready for it and do not give in to the hardship. How are you going to endure? Endure like a soldier, like an athlete, and like a hard-working farmer.
- Look to the Lord for understanding. In the midst of this difficult time, look to the Lord for understanding. It is not going to be easy.
- Remember what Christ has done for you. This will remind you of why you do what you do.
- Do not argue with people over words. Instead of getting into lengthy debates on the linguistics of the standard and what retaining it looks like and means, focus on what God has called you to do. Teach the Word of God when the people want to hear It and teach them when they do not want to hear It.
- Be diligent in studying and teaching the Word accurately. In order to retain the standard and guard the treasure, you must know what the standard is. In order to know the standard, you must be diligent in studying the Word of God. Once you have studied, understood, and applied the Word of God, you are to teach it accurately.
Galatians 1:6:24 teaches us that if we are going to guard the treasure, we must:
- Do not preach a different Gospel other than the One that is presented in the Scriptures.
- Do not listen to another Gospel other than the One presented in the Scriptures even if presented by an apostle or an angel.
Based on what we have seen here, are you guarding the Gospel as a treasure? Are you doing your part? Are you retaining the standard? Have you been taught by a mentor? Are you entrusting the Word to others? Are you diligent in studying the Scriptures and teaching them accurately? How do you view opposition and hardship? Are you ready to endure?
III. Paul’s practical example of guarding the Treasure
The best thing for us as visual people is to have a visual example to follow. Paul uses himself as an example in II Timothy.
- the Gospel that he preaches is directly from God. It is not something that he learned from someone else.
- We have the same Gospel today. We have the Word of God given to us directly from God.
- In order to guard the Gospel and pass it on to others, Paul spent much time with his disciples. This is not something that can be done once a week over a two hour period. Paul met with them daily, teaching them the Word of God so that they could be equipped once he was gone to continue guarding the treasure and pass it on to others.
- Everything that he declared to them was profitable. II Timothy 3:16 teaches us that the Scriptures are what is profitable to us for guarding the treasure.
- Paul taught the people publicly and from house to house so that they could know and retain the standard of the Gospel.
- Paul taught repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.
- Paul knows the suffering and hardship that awaits him for preaching and teaching the Gospel and yet he continues to retain the standard.
- Paul does not focus on himself in the midst of difficult situations.
- Paul desires to finish the course that the Lord laid before him.
- Paul knows his ministry, to proclaim the Gospel and testify of the grace of God to all who will listen.
- Paul did not shrink from teaching the full purpose of the Word of God to anyone. He did not just pick and choose his favorite passages.
- He knows that people will come from outside the flock and from within with a different standard and teaching. He warns the leaders to be on guard for people like this. The will arise from among you. Do not be surprised.
- Paul did not use superior speech when presenting the Gospel. He did not use worldly wisdom. In other words, he did not use the manipulative tactics of men to try and convince people to accept the Gospel.
- Paul simply preached the Gospel of God as is, simple to understand yet so profound that the greatest of theologians cannot figure it out.
- The simple message of the Gospel is Jesus Christ crucified.
- The central focus of the message was Jesus Christ, so that the power of God could be revealed.
- Paul understood that saving faith is based on the Word of God and not the wisdom of men because if I can talk you in to believing, someone else can talk you out of believing.
- Paul wanted the power of God to be demonstrated through the Gospel and not the power of his speaking ability.
- Paul views himself as a steward of the mystery of God (the Gospel) The Gospel was entrusted to him and he wants to manage It properly.
- Paul is a trustworthy person and in order to guard the treasure, I must be trustworthy as well.
- Paul felt compelled to preach the Gospel everywhere he went.
- Paul felt that he was cursed if he did not preach the Gospel.
- Paul does it voluntarily.
- Paul sees his ministry and calling as stewardship.
- Paul feels called to give the Gospel freely to all who will accept It and preach It to all, even to those who would not accept It.
We have much to learn from Paul’s example. I pray that we will continue to study his life and ministry so that we can be like him, retaining the standard and guarding the treasure that God has given to us.
Where do you stand my dear friend? Do you view the Gospel as a treasure? Has It changed your life? Do you diligently study the Word? Do you apply the Word? Do you seek to entrust the Word to others? Do you keep the standard and pass that standard on to others? Are you learning from Paul’s example and trying to be like him? May the Lord help us guard the awesome Treasure that has been entrusted to us.